READING, Pa. – The electric offense of Franklin & Marshall's No. 12 ranked men's soccer team opened up the second half of Thursday night's season-opening tilt against Alvernia with a pair of goals in the opening four minutes of the final stanza en route to a dominant 4-1 victory.
The Diplomats, who won their seventh consecutive opening-season contest and ninth in the previous 10 years, improved to 1-0 while the Crusaders dropped to 0-1.
F&M's first score of the 2016 season turned out to be an own goal when a cross into the box was deflected off an Alvernia player and into the back of the net just three minutes into the second half, breaking the scoreless tie. Seconds later, Jason Tonelli pushed the advantage to two when he beat his defender and lit the scoreboard with a quick tally.
Momentum continued in the Diplomats' favor when Ryan Fincher sent a cross into the box that found the head of Cole Niggeman in the 65th minute to make it a 3-0 game. Less than a minute passed before the Crusaders finally got on the board, maneuvering behind the F&M defense on a long pass from midfield and finding the back of the net.
The flurry of action continued, as the Diplomats were quick to respond. A little more than a minute ticked off the clock following the Alvernia score when Ugo Okolie drew a foul in the box and gave Jeremy Levine a penalty kick opportunity. The senior captain came through with a well-place shot to put the contest out of reach for good.
Shots were even through the opening 45 minutes and narrowly favored F&M when the horn sounded at 8-7. The Diplomats dominated corners at 9-1 with a 3-0 edge occurring in the final frame.
Tonelli paced the offense with two shots while six F&M players recorded one each. Goalkeeper Dave Reingold (1-0) was strong in net, turning back four attempts to earn the first victory of his career.
Non-conference competition continues on Sunday when No. 10 Lycoming comes to town for a battle of top-15 teams. Action begins at 1:00 p.m.